Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

One part of a mesothelioma prognosis is a patient’s life expectancy. The average mesothelioma life expectancy is 12-21 months following a diagnosis in most cases. However, some people can greatly outlive the average life expectancy due to the type of mesothelioma they have, their cancer stage, and the treatments they receive.

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Written and Fact-Checked by: Lung Cancer Group

What Is the Life Expectancy of Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma life expectancy refers to the number of months or years doctors estimate a patient has to live following a mesothelioma diagnosis.

Mesothelioma, which is caused by exposure to asbestos, is an extremely aggressive cancer. Many people are not diagnosed until the cancer is in its advanced stages. For these reasons, the life expectancy for mesothelioma is quite poor.

Most patients diagnosed with mesothelioma have an average life expectancy of 12-21 months.

However, each case of mesothelioma is different because of several factors and a patient’s life expectancy is not set in stone. It is possible that a patient may outlive their mesothelioma life expectancy.

In fact, some patients have lived 15-20 years following their mesothelioma diagnosis.

Mesothelioma treatment is the best way to improve a patient’s life expectancy. For help finding a mesothelioma doctor and mesothelioma cancer center near you, contact the Lung Cancer Group patient advocates at (877) 446-5767.

Difference Between Life Expectancy and Survival Rate

Life expectancy and survival rate both influence a patient’s mesothelioma prognosis. Often confused for the same thing, they are two different statistics that help patients understand what to expect as they fight mesothelioma.

While life expectancy refers to how long a patient is estimated to live after a diagnosis, survival rate refers to the percentage chance that a patient can live a certain amount of time. Like life expectancy, survival rate is only an estimate, and it can possibly be improved through treatment.

The average 5-year survival rate for mesothelioma patients is 10%.

Mesothelioma Life Expectancy by Stage and Type

The location of mesothelioma tumors is one of the main factors that impacts a patient’s life expectancy. The four types of mesothelioma — pleural, peritoneal, pericardial, and testicular — are all found in different parts of the body and have unique characteristics and behaviors. Learn about the mesothelioma life expectancy for each type below.

Pleural Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Pleural mesothelioma is found in the lining of the lungs, also known as the pleura. It is the most common type of mesothelioma and is the only type that follows an official staging system.

While the average life expectancy for pleural mesothelioma patients is 18 months, the stage at which it was diagnosed has a significant impact on life expectancy.

Mesothelioma stages describe how advanced mesothelioma tumors are and whether cancer cells have spread to lymph nodes or other organs. For these reasons, each pleural mesothelioma stage has a different life expectancy.

Stage 1

At stage 1, mesothelioma tumors are only found in the lining of one side of the lungs. It is also likely that some cells have spread to the lining of nearby organs, such as the heart, at this stage.

However, stage 1 pleural mesothelioma is the most responsive to surgical treatment, providing patients an improved mesothelioma life expectancy.

The average life expectancy for stage 1 mesothelioma is 21 months with treatment.

Stage 2

Stage 2 differs from stage 1 in that mesothelioma cells have begun spreading from the pleura to lymph nodes. Oncologists (cancer doctors) can remove all visible tissues and possibly lymph nodes that have been overrun with cancer cells.

The average life expectancy for stage 2 mesothelioma is 19 months with treatment.

Stage 3

In the third stage of mesothelioma, cancer cells become increasingly aggressive, spreading throughout the pleura and other parts of the body. Doctors may recommend more invasive surgical treatment options, which may improve mesothelioma life expectancy.

The average life expectancy for stage 3 mesothelioma is 16 months with treatment.

Stage 4

The most advanced stage of mesothelioma is stage 4, when tumors have spread to several parts of the body. This is the most difficult stage to treat and major surgeries are no longer possible, but doctors may help ease symptoms through multimodal therapies.

The average life expectancy for stage 4 mesothelioma is 12 months with treatment.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Peritoneal mesothelioma is found in the lining of the abdomen, also known as the peritoneum.

Because this cancer rarely spreads outside of the abdomen, doctors are often able to perform highly effective, localized treatments such as a cytoreduction with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC). This treatment combines surgery with heated chemotherapy to remove tumors and kill any remaining mesothelioma cells.

The average life expectancy for a patient with peritoneal mesothelioma is 53 months with treatment.

Pericardial Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

A more rare form of mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma is found in the lining around the heart (pericardium). It is often not diagnosed until the cancer is extremely advanced, leading to an incredibly poor prognosis.

The average life expectancy for pericardial mesothelioma is between 2 and 6 months, and most patients are only diagnosed after they’ve died.

However, some surgical treatments are available to extend pericardial mesothelioma life expectancy. In fact, there is a report of one woman who survived for 4 years following her pericardial mesothelioma diagnosis thanks to the exceptional treatment provided by specialists.

Testicular Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Testicular mesothelioma is another rare form of mesothelioma, accounting for less than 1% of mesothelioma cases. Testicular mesothelioma is found in the lining of one or both testicles, depending on how early it is detected.

With a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, patients can greatly improve their mesothelioma life expectancy.

The average life expectancy for testicular mesothelioma is 47 months.

Factors Influencing Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Beyond the location and stage of mesothelioma tumors, there are several other factors that can influence life expectancy (like a patient’s age, health, and gender). These factors generally impact how a patient responds to and recovers from various cancer treatment options.

Age

Because of the cancer’s long latency period, it is more common for patients ages 60 or older to be diagnosed with mesothelioma. However, multiple studies have found that patients younger than 60 have a much more positive outlook in terms of mesothelioma life expectancy.

Cancer research suggests that younger patients may have longer mesothelioma life expectancies because their bodies are more resilient to more aggressive treatment options.

Cell Type

Mesothelioma cancer cells are categorized into three different cell types — epithelioid or epithelial, sarcomatoid, and biphasic. Each cell type responds to treatment differently. Because each cell type is unique, they each have their own mesothelioma life expectancy.

Mesothelioma Cell TypeLife Expectancy
Epithelioid mesothelioma14 months
Sarcomatoid mesothelioma7 months
Biphasic mesothelioma10 months

Gender

Studies have found that women diagnosed with mesothelioma have a much better life expectancy and survival rate than men.

Researchers are still looking into why this is, but factors like less exposure to asbestos than men and the presence of hormones such as estrogen could play a role.

Overall Health

Patients who have generally good health and participate in a healthy lifestyle are more likely to outlive and improve their mesothelioma life expectancies. This is because their bodies might be more resilient to more intensive treatment methods.

Some oncology departments and cancer centers will have nutritionists available to provide the best dietary guidance to keep patients strong throughout treatment.

Improving Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Getting treatment is the most important factor in improving a patient’s mesothelioma life expectancy.

Mesothelioma treatment options can include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Clinical trials
  • Immunotherapy
  • Radiation therapy or radiotherapy
  • Surgery

Many of the best mesothelioma cancer doctors will recommend multimodal treatment plans, which combine multiple mesothelioma treatment options.

For example, some doctors may follow mesothelioma surgery with a prescription for chemotherapy drugs to ensure any remaining cancer cells are killed.

Treatment options will also depend on the type of mesothelioma a patient has and the other factors that impact their prognosis. To determine the best treatment options, it is important to work with a mesothelioma specialist near you.

With the support of exceptional treatment methods and experienced oncologists, some mesothelioma patients have lived for years and even decades following their diagnosis.

Contact the Lung Cancer Group team for help finding a mesothelioma doctor and cancer center.

Mesothelioma Life Expectancy Without Treatment

Without treatment, a patient’s mesothelioma life expectancy will remain poor. This is because mesothelioma tumors will continue to grow and spread at aggressive rates.

Pleural mesothelioma patients can expect an average life expectancy of 4-12 months without treatment.

Peritoneal mesothelioma patients have a life expectancy of 6-12 months without treatment.

Even if you’re diagnosed with end-stage mesothelioma, it’s still important to consider getting treated. Mesothelioma treatments can help you live with less pain. Further, some late-stage patients have outlived an originally poor life expectancy with treatments.

Finding Support Resources and Hope After Diagnosis

Receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis can feel overwhelming, and the cost of life-extending treatment can often feel burdensome. You and your loved ones do not have to navigate this time alone.

The team at Lung Cancer Group is here to support you. We can help connect you with resources so you can focus on getting treatment and spending valuable time with your loved ones.

Mesothelioma support resources can include:

  • Financial assistance: For decades, makers of asbestos-based products knew of the dangers of this mineral yet continued to put millions at risk. A mesothelioma lawyer may be able to help you pursue financial compensation from these manufacturers so you can cover treatment costs and other expenses.
  • Medical care: Finding the best mesothelioma specialists near you will ensure you have access to the top treatment options for your specific mesothelioma diagnosis.

Contact us today at (877) 446-5767 to get help finding mesothelioma doctors and seeking financial assistance.

FAQs About Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

What is the life expectancy of a person with mesothelioma?

The average life expectancy for someone with mesothelioma is 12-21 months in most cases. However, each mesothelioma diagnosis is different. Their prognosis is dependent on several factors including their age, overall health, the cancer’s cell type, and the stage of mesothelioma.

With the help of mesothelioma treatment options, there are chances of some patients living for 15-20 years following their diagnosis.

Is life expectancy different than survival rate?

Yes. Life expectancy refers to the estimated time, in months or years, a patient may survive with mesothelioma. Survival rate is the percentage chance that someone may outlive a certain amount of years.

Both life expectancy and survival rate are part of a mesothelioma prognosis provided by oncologists and can possibly be improved through treatment.

What are the symptoms of advanced mesothelioma?

Symptoms of advanced mesothelioma vary depending on the location of the cancer tumors.

The most common mesothelioma symptoms include:

  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent cough
  • Unexplained appetite changes
  • Weight loss

If you are experiencing these symptoms, talk with your doctor immediately.

Are there survivors of mesothelioma?

Yes. Although rare, it is possible for some mesothelioma patients to live for 15-20 years after their mesothelioma diagnosis.

The key to outliving a poor mesothelioma life expectancy and becoming a long-term survivor is to get treatment. Without medical care, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to live for a long time after a mesothelioma diagnosis.

What is the longest someone has lived with mesothelioma?

The longest someone has survived with mesothelioma is currently about 25 years. This patient was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in the late 1990s and is still alive today.

There are a number of other mesothelioma patients who have lived more than 10 years after their diagnosis, too.

For example, a woman was diagnosed in August 2006 with peritoneal mesothelioma. She has survived over 16 years thanks to treatment that has brought her mesothelioma to a stable condition where it is not spreading.

How long can you live with untreated mesothelioma?

Without treatment, you have a very poor mesothelioma life expectancy as the cancer will spread through your body. Many patients will not live longer than a year with untreated mesothelioma.

If detected in an early stage, can mesothelioma be cured?

There is no official cure for mesothelioma right now. However, doctors will perform curative treatment options, which are focused on improving life expectancy and removing as much of the cancer as possible.

It is possible for some patients to enter remission, which means the cancer is no longer spreading. Patients also experience little to no symptoms when they’re in remission.

Lung Cancer Group was established by a team of caring advocates so those with lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases can get the help they deserve. Our site provides the most accurate and up-to-date information about lung cancer, its link to asbestos, and financial compensation available to patients. Contact us to learn more and get assistance.

12 References
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  2. Brown, L. B., Corl, F., & Blackmon, S. H. (2020). “Surgical staging and resection of malignant pleural mesothelioma.” Journal of Thoracic Disease. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7797813/. Accessed on November 8, 2022.

  3. Cancer Support Community. (2017). “Still Defying the Odds after 20 Years.” Retrieved from https://www.cancersupportcommunity.org/blog/2017/05/still-defying-odds-after-20-years. Accessed on November 14, 2022.

  4. Enomoto, L. M., Shen, P., Levine, E. A., & Votanopoulos, K. I. (2018). “Cytoreductive surgery with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy for peritoneal mesothelioma: patient selection and special considerations.” Cancer Management and Research. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6511620/. Accessed on November 8, 2022.

  5. Greenbaum, A., & Alexander, H. R. (2020). “Peritoneal mesothelioma. Translational Lung Cancer Research.” Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7082256/. Accessed on November 14, 2022.

  6. Kim, J., Bhagwandin, S., & Labow, D. M. (2017). “Malignant peritoneal mesothelioma: a review. Annals of Translational Medicine.” Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5497105/. Accessed on November 14, 2022.

  7. Nazemi, A., Nassiri, N., Pearce, S., Daneshmand, S. (2019). “Testicular Mesothelioma: An Analysis of Epidemiology, Patient Outcomes, and Prognostic Factors.” Urology. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0090429519300640. Accessed on November 4, 2022.

  8. Penn Medicine Abramson Cancer Center. “Mesothelioma Prognosis.” Retrieved from: https://www.pennmedicine.org/cancer/types-of-cancer/mesothelioma/prognosis. Accessed on November 3, 2022.

  9. Robinson, B., Musk, A., Lake, R., (2005) “Malignant mesothelioma.” The Lancet. Retrieved from: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(05)67025-0/fulltext. Accessed on November 4, 2022.

  10. Rossini, M., Rizzo, P., Bononi, I., Clementz, A., Ferrari, R., Martini, F., & Tognon, M. G. (2017). “New Perspectives on Diagnosis and Therapy of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma.” Frontiers in Oncology. Retrieved from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fonc.2018.00091/full. Accessed on November 8, 2022.

  11. Taioli, E., Wolf, A. S., Camacho-Rivera, M., & Flores, R. M. (2014). “Women With Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Have a Threefold Better Survival Rate Than Men.” The Annals of Thoracic Surgery. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0003497514008248. Accessed on November 4, 2022.

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